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Emory students celebrate Atlanta’s 404 Day with volunteer community service

More than 30 students from Emory joined volunteers from other area colleges and universities to team up with the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership for a major community service project celebrating the city’s iconic 404 Day, a nod to the “404” area code for Atlanta phone numbers.

More than 300 students from nine higher education institutions visited four BeltLine locations for an afternoon of park beautification, food security support, youth engagement and more. These students began their celebration of 404 Day early by volunteering for community service on Saturday, March 30, a few days before the holiday on Thursday, April 4.

The collaboration was incredibly impactful for Atlanta. For example, students collected more than 3,000 pounds of trash, among their many other significant contributions to communities along the BeltLine.

“This was a wonderful day and another great opportunity for Emory to engage with the larger community,” says Audrey Hester, associate director of Emory Athletics, which led the university’s engagement and recruited more than two dozen student-athletes for the project. “It’s one way among so many that the university carries on its tradition of outreach and service — and our Emory students are proud to be part of that tradition.”

Observed each year on April 4 (4/04) since 2012, the holiday is described by the organization’s website as “Atlanta’s signature celebration of creative culture, blending music, visual art and dance.” Although Piedmont Park offers food, beverages and music as the heart of the celebration, 404 Day events are also featured at other Atlanta locations.

The nine area colleges and universities were broken into four teams that met at different points along the BeltLine:

  • Northside, Bobby Jones Golf Course: Clark Atlanta University and Oglethorpe University
  • Southside, Pittsburgh Yards: Atlanta Metropolitan College and Georgia Tech
  • Eastside, Fourth Ward Skate Park: Emory University and Morris Brown College
  • Westside, BeltLine Partnership Headquarters: Georgia State University, Morehouse College and Spelman College

Emory students reflect on their 404 Day community service

“I think it’s important for local college and university students to have a sense of community in Atlanta and all the resources the city brings for our schools,” says Alex Feurer, an Emory junior and member of the track and field team. “So, to come together and give back is really cool.”

Other students also emphasized the importance of community engagement.

“It was really crowded on the BeltLine, and we got to meet lots of people. Passersby would thank us for taking the time to clean up the area,” says Paris Buren, a second-year student at Emory. “It’s important to volunteer because it’s really difficult as college students to get out into the Atlanta community and immerse ourselves and interact with others — to take the time to slow down and think about the people and the community around us.”

Devon Lynn Hendricks, deputy athletics director and Emory’s project lead for 404 Day, underscores the importance of the organizational partnership that made the 404 Day community service project possible.

“We are delighted with the opportunity to collaborate with the BeltLine Partnership and other area colleges and universities to serve Atlanta communities,” Hendricks says, explaining that the event exemplifies the definitions of student engagement, institutional partnership and community service.

“Students engaged with peers from their own institutions and others, colleges and universities partnered with one another and with government, nonprofit and other organizations,” Hendricks adds. “And, together, they delivered hundreds of hours of community service for Atlanta metro neighborhoods — laying the foundation for a tradition of such community service partnerships for the future.”

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